Photos: xBhp / Sunil Gupta / MotoGrapher except where mentioned. Thanks to Asif Zubairi and Aditya Bedre for some track riding shots.
Bike Concept Design: MotoGrapher / Sundeep Gajjar
Bike Design Execution : Kaulson Racing Products (KRP), New Delhi.
It all started at the #TheGrandFinale for MotoGP 2015 in Valencia. As most of you already know things were pretty hot due to the ‘Sepang Clash’ between Rossi and Marquez. And Lorenzo did (too) well by fuelling the fire`.
Like many (most?) of you I am also a VR fan. He is one of my idols. Just to let you know my idols since long are Arnold Schwarzenegger, Steve Jobs, Michael Jackson and Valentino Rossi. There are many others whom I admire, but none like these fantastic 4. My admiration for them arises from the fact that they have achieved so much at a world stage, have been consistent and pretty much fought their demons and weaknesses which give us the hint that they are human as well.
As all of us do, I see a bit of them in myself and hence get motivated in the hope of achieving more.
This project is a small mark of respect I wanted to pay to this man.
A bit of background about me for those of you who dont know. I am a motorcycle travel photographer amongst other roles that I have to juggle with – webmaster, graphic designer, marketer etcetera. Racing is not my forte, but I would like to say I am a ‘fast’ tourer. I have been to a few tracks around the world with the oddest of the bikes – Multistrada, Vstrom, you name it, but never a track bike! First world problems of a tourer, eh.
As luck would have for us Indians, especially north Indians, we now have a world class racing circuit in our own backyard. 80 kms from home and its nirvana here in the National Capital Region of India – the Buddh International Circuit.
And here is when I got to know about the JKChampionship which also has category for motorcycles. I entered the first round last month in October 2015 on a Benelli 1130R finishing 11th out of 20 with a best time of 2.23 (the current record on the circuit on a motorcycle is 1.59 by Alex Cudlin of Australia on a ZX10R if I am not wrong).
The second round of the JKChampionship was held the last November 2015 weekend, that’s yesterday. Friday-practice, Saturday-Qualifying and Sunday – Race day. That’s how its structured.
I have mentioned in detail on the choice of my bike for the race in this post. You may read that first to understand the complete scenario. Jumping back here, I was a little disappointed to know that I wont be able to get my hands on the Benelli 1130R again, which the company gave me to race in the first round. So I had to make do with my Benelli 899. Lesser power, same weight which means I will be even slower on the straights and off the corners but will still have to complete in the brutal 1000 CC Superbike category because of the cubic capacity norms.
Never mind. Like they say a man has to what he has to do. I will do my best, I thought and have fun, that’s all what matters. All this was happening in my own own little world as the world at large prepared to witness #TheGrandFinale.
That Sunday in Valencia, when Rossi started from the back of the grid, and when he was riding completely alone in the middle of the fastest pack of three ahead of him and the slower ones behind him, a thought dawned on me. This was my chance to do something for the indomitable spirit of this man, to pay a tribute to this great man who has been at this for 20 years at the top. The bloody incredible in its own way. I could relate a lot to him because there are a few unexplained things which drive me as well through the thick and thin, and this man right here was the epitome of the don’t-give-up attitude.
Here was my chance to actually do up a bike in a custom paint job which represents the spirit of this man and I could actually race this bike! Disappointed with the expected results, I closed the browser window but only after this update which summed up my frustration.
A few hours ago before the race, I had posted the following, which was one of my favourite photos ever taken in the World Ducati Week 2012 qhen Vale was with Ducati and I had completed a 10,000 kms ride from Dubai to Italy on a Ducati Multistrada.
But what is done is done. Lorenzo became the world champion as the world watch Rossi ride a lonely race in between. But the aftermath clearly showed that Rossi was the real champ, people’s champion. Thousands and millions of people like me resonated similar sentiments. Sales of VR46 merchandise probably blasted through the roof, even though he lost his world championship! The reason lies deep in the human psyche – we love people with charisma and character. Clinical people do not go well down emotionally because by nature humans are imperfect. The philoso-psyco analysis can run into hundreds of pages, but the bottom line is – I love Valentino Rossi, and I do not like Lorenzo.
There was a question put up to me on what do I think about the 46-99-93 clash. Here is what I wrote in the heat of the moment, perhaps each individual answers will be different basis his personality and assessment, but here is mine:
“About Marquez and Rossi
I am 35. I started xBhp when I was 21. I starting touring when I was 26 and since then I have done 51 countries on 107 motorcycles and done 300,000 kms. I have a certain ego. I am good at what I do, but with every passing year I know there anre youngsters that I have to better. It is not an easy environment. I cannot afford to relax.
Now take this pressure to the highest level in one of the most dangerous sports in the world – MotoGP. Rossi needs respect. He ‘deserved’ the 10th title for all his contributions to motorsport. His young fan, Marquez, was saying he is a fan of Rossi and RESPECTED him, but in reality Rossi saw through him and understood that Marquez just means business and detected disrespect from him.
He was hurt.
He is getting old and needs (deserves!) that magic figure of 10. Thats what probably goes into his head.
The pressure got the better of him and he started a war of words and that incident where he ‘kicked’ him and Marquez fell. I dont think MM fell because of the kick, but because he pressed the front brakes too hard. Or just hyper reflexes.
If I were Rossi I would also teach this kid a lesson. One day he MIGHT be in the same place where Rossi is now.
It is true that the sport respect whoever is the fastest NOW, but in my opinion Rossi is faster that these kids if you discount and equalize their age.
35 years against 22 in a sport where you start at 6 ?
I agree Rossi should have kept his cool and he could have won, but he is also human and we must learn to forgive and respect people who have achieved and given the sport so much. Thats the way of life. Not taking away anything from how Lorezo rides, but he doesnt strike a chord in my heart.
Rossi has paid for his actions anyways, looking forward for 2016. Like we say : Forza Vale!“
And hence #FORzaVale project.
Here is what I did in Photoshop in couple of hours with the Benelli 899 :
And here is how it turned out to be:
I think the Benelli 899 just looks so futuristic and gorgeous that it is hard for me to imagine any other streetfighter to do this project on. Some of you might know that I also have the Yamaha FZ1, but I plan to sell that, and moreover it looks pretty old school, thought solid still.
And here is a bag (Ogio) I customised:
And the helmet, notice the graphic:
The seat features a rubber motif of Valentino Rossi’s star dog – Guido who died in 2008. As you can see he has angel wings in this graphic, however in all of his races and graphics he had has his dog, mostly on the rear of the bike’s seat. To him it was more than just a dog.
This section of the bike has three elements of interest:
- Pd is element called Palladium which has the atomic number 46. Interestingly it is also the dominant element used in catalytic convertors in motor vehicles.
- Human cells have 23 pairs of chromosomes, giving it a total of 46 per cell.
- The (VR|46)∞ denotes that anything is possible with Rossi.
- The 10 ‘Campione Del Mondo’ means 10 times world champion, and not 9, at least in our dictionary!
Pirelli Super Corsa V2 tyres were used for this race on the Benelli 899
The 46 Chromosomes, front mudguard:
The sun and the moon which Rossi uses on his helmets and other gear probably has go to something on the lines of Ying and Yang. I read somewhere it also represents symbols of italian mysticism – a dichotomy between light and dark, night and day. And that Rossi is good off the track and a demon on it:
Now it’s race time!:
This is another helmet I have got from the Rossi Collection. This design was unveiled by Rossi in 2008 at Mugello. “Tribu dei chihuahua” has two meanings in all probability. One dates back to his school days when he thought he as an underdog (!). This phrase literally means ‘Tribe of the Underdogs’. Chihuahua is a small dog, as most of you might know. So his tribe was his group of friends and this is a way he pays respect and remembers them.
Second interpretation, which probably was in his book, ‘What if I had never tried’, says this is his working crew, the tribe. Anyways, here it is on my alternate helmet for this project. This is the one I finally used to race with.
Practice and Qualifying photos, but before that this is necessary, as the Doc does it:
Photo : Sunil Gupta
Photo : Sunil Gupta
Yaayy, I came 14th!
And of course a burnout on that sweet ass rubber!
Last but not the least here is a video shot with a GoPro on a BMW HP4 with the Benelli 899 on the practice day. The timing I was getting was around 2.31. On qualifying I got a little better timing of 2.28 and on race day I got 2.25. Could have been a little better in the hands of a pro but I was satisfied with my (and bike’s performance). As you can probably notice in the video the bike is blown out the water by the likes of the HP4 which was ridden by a middle level experienced rider. Even the Daytona 675s were very fast compared to this behemoth. As with any racer, I would like to hope that I have a proper racing bike the next time around and not use a streetfighter in the middle of these beasts. But you know what, I had a blast!
Round 1 JKChampionship : Benelli 1130R : 2.23 : Came 11th out of 20 in 1000CC category
Round 2 JKChampionship : Benelli 899 : 2.25 : Came 14th in 1000CC category
P.S : Congratulations to all, especially the young lad Simran King from Delhi for winning the 1000CC championship.